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India will appeal to UAE against Indian's imprisonment


December 16, 1999

India will appeal to the authorities concerned in the United Arab Emirates for showing mercy to Mohammed Abdul Kaleem Bahadur, sentenced to a ten-year jail term, on charges of possessing khus-khus, an aromatic fibrous root said to contain opium. 

Indian ambassador to the UAE K C Singh said the embassy would make a mercy plea, considering that there was no guilty intent on the part of Bahadur though he made a mistake. Possessing or planting khus-khus is banned in the UAE even though it is regarded as a food spice in India. 

"The regulations of the land are there in place and we fully appreciate and respect the importance they carry," he said. However, it would appear reasonable to make a distinction between a passenger well-settled and employed in the UAE, travelling with his family and carrying a purported condiment, and a passenger carrying a banned drug in the knowledge that it was an offence, local media quoted Singh as saying. 

In this context, Singh said there was need to re-launch the campaign to educate gulf-bound travellers on the laws in force in the emirates. 

He said there were three other cases of Indian nationals arrested on charges of carrying the seeds. His appeal for pardon for Bahadur would also include their cases. 

The federal high court of UAE had recently upheld the judgment passed by a Shariah criminal court in 1997 on Bahadur, sentencing him to a ten-year jail term, a fine of 50,000 dirhams (about Rs 60,000) and deportation for bringing khus-khus into the country. 

Source: Rediff News Service

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